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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  December 2008

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION December 2008

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Subject:

Re: Narthex (WAS Re: [M-R] saints of the day 28. December)

From:

Stan Metheny <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

medieval-religion - Scholarly discussions of medieval religious culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 30 Dec 2008 14:49:47 -0500

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text/plain

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

As you perhaps expected, there were no search results for 'narthex' in 
_Thesaurus Linguae Latinae_, the online Lewis & Short at Perseus, or in 
Whitaker's Words.

Stan Metheny

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "John Dillon" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, December 30, 2008 2:11 PM
Subject: [M-R] Narthex (WAS Re: [M-R] saints of the day 28. December)


> medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
>
> As it happens, _narthex_ although spelled similarly to such other Latin 
> words of more than one syllable ending in "ex" as _index_, _culex_, 
> _pulex_, _pontifex_ is phonetically distinct from them in that in these 
> latter words (all of which -- unlike _narthex_ -- are of Latin origin) the 
> "e" before the "x" is short and becomes a short "i" in oblique cases.  But 
> in _narthex_ the "e" preceding the "x" is long and should remain a long 
> "e" in oblique cases (cf. Pliny, _N. H._. 13. 123: _nartheca_, a Latinized 
> Greek accusative form).
>
> EXCURSUS:  _narthex_ is a loan word from the Greek and signifies, both in 
> Greek and in Latin, one or more fairly long-stalked species of fennel. 
> The architectural use is an extended meaning.  Procopius, _De aedificiis_ 
> 1. 2. 4 says it's because of these porches' great length.  I think it may 
> be a combination of that and of the plant's arrangement of knobby flower 
> heads along the central stalk-- the porches to which Procopius refers were 
> colonnaded.  Herewith a view from nature:
> http://tinyurl.com/7eyqzu
>
> I can't find the genitive singular of _narthex_ attested in ancient Latin 
> (it isn't attested pre-classically or classically; it _might_ be attested 
> from Late Antiquity but I don't have remote access to the online 
> _Thesaurus Linguae Latinae_).  Nonetheless, normative Latin orthography 
> routinely represents by the letter "e" that long "e" in loan words from 
> Greek.  Which is why we have as standard forms e.g. _ecclesia_ and 
> _bibliotheca_, with _ecclisia_ and _bibliothica_ occurring from late 
> antiquity into the early modern period as pronunciation spellings.  The 
> early seventeenth-century papal secretary Leone Allacci, a native speaker 
> of Greek, wrote a little treatise in Latin on the narthex in 
> ecclesiastical buildings (_De narthece ecclesiae veteris, epistola_) in 
> which he quite properly uses _narthec-_ in oblique cases:
> http://tinyurl.com/a6msxu
>
> By the same token, the standard Latinate plural of English "narthex" is 
> "nartheces" not "narthices".  The standard non-Latinate plural is of 
> course "narthexes".
>
> Hope this helps.
>
> Best,
> John Dillon
>
> On Sunday, December 28, 2008, at 5:04 pm, Marjorie Greene wrote:
>
>> Jim Bugslag wrote: the narthexes (nartheces?)
>>
>> Jim, Your query sent me straight to two dictionaries, neither of which
>> had a response to your ? If "narthex" follows the usual Latin pattern,
>> the plural would be "narthices." However "indexes" and "indices" are
>> both accepted as the plural of "index," so I suppose "narthexes" is
>> OK. I'd love a response from one of our resident specialists on the 
>> subject.
>> MG
>
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